Heather Dingwall, PhD
T32 Postdoctoral fellow: July 1, 2022 – Present
Mentor: Yana Kamberov, PhD
Project: Uncovering the cellular and molecular determinants of eccrine sweat gland fate
Heather Dingwall received her PhD in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in 2019. Her doctoral work investigated the molecular mechanisms that control tendon growth, and how evolution may have shaped the growth process to yield the highly variable tendon size observed among extant primates. She then joined the lab of Dr. Yana Kamberov in the Department of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania in July 2020 where she studies the evolution and development of ectodermal appendages. Eccrine sweat glands are the most abundant ectodermal appendage in human skin and are critical for human thermoregulation, yet we know less about their development than that of the other appendages (e.g., hair, mammary glands). Heather’s postdoctoral research harnesses the power of mouse models and single nucleus transcriptomics (snRNA-seq) to take a molecularly directed approach to identifying key cellular and genetic mediators of eccrine gland formation. Using an inducible, tissue-specific knockout of En1– which is required for eccrine gland specification– together with snRNA-seq, this work has helped to define the En1-dependent transcriptional programs in the basal ectoderm that direct eccrine gland specification. It has also identified an En1-dependent eccrine dermal niche that is necessary for the continued development of eccrine glands. This work is the first step towards a molecular blueprint for future studies on the regeneration and repair of damaged eccrine glands.
T32-Funded research supported the following:
Aldea D, Kokalari B, Atsuta Y, Dingwall HL, Zheng Y, Nace A, Cotsarelis G, Kamberov YG. Differential modularity of the mammalian Engrailed 1 enhancer network directs sweat gland development. PLoS Genet. 2023 Feb 6;19(2):e1010614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010614. PMID: 36745673; PMCID: PMC9934363.